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Components | April 17, 2012

Fabless supplier Qualcomm nears USD 10bn in sales

U.S.-based suppliers captured 8 of the top 10 places and 12 of the top 25 positions in the fabless IC supplier ranking for 2011.
Combined, the top 25 fabless IC suppliers represented 80% of the $64.9 billion in fabless IC sales last year, up 4 percentage points from 2010.

It is worth noting that 2010 was the first year on record that total fabless IC company sales growth did not outperform total IC market growth (a 27% increase for fabless IC companies versus a total IC industry growth rate of 33%). However, fabless IC suppliers were back on track in 2011 as worldwide fabless company IC sales increased 4% as compared to total IC market growth of 1%.

Overall, 15 of the top 25 fabless IC companies outperformed the total 2011 fabless IC sales growth rate of 4%. In fact, eight fabless companies registered double-digit increases in IC sales last year.

China-based Spreadtrum was the star performer among the fabless IC producers last year, logging an amazing 95% sales jump. Spreadtrum supplies baseband processors and highly integrated CMOS RF transceivers for wireless applications with over 90% of its sales to China-based customers. Spreadtrum has risen from being ranked as the 67th largest fabless IC supplier in 2009 to 17th in 2011, a jump of 50 spots in only two years!

Spreadtrum and ST-Ericsson are both heavily involved in the cellphone marketplace. In contrast to Spreadtrum, ST-Ericsson’s IC sales dropped 28% in 2011 after declining by 9% in 2010. The difficult times at the company led to a restructuring in March of 2012 and it is rumored that this was a prelude to eventually putting the company up for sale.

The 8 top-25 fabless IC companies that registered double-digit growth in 2011 had combined sales of $20.1 billion, up 29% from their combined sales of $15.6 billion in 2010. Overall, these top eight performers increased their combined sales by $4.5 billion last year as compared to a $2.4 billion increase for total fabless IC company sales in 2011. It is obvious that these eight companies are now prime targets for the IC foundries (e.g., TSMC, GlobalFoundries, UMC, Samsung, etc.).

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